Spring in Boulder means the end of ski season and the beginning of running season. Of course, the hard-core Boulderites have been running six times a week all winter long, but even in my younger days, I never had the sufficient commitment to running that was necessary to claim membership in that elite group.
So, for me, the vanishing of the ice and snow from the trails brings with it my annual fire drill to get in shape for the Bolder Boulder. For those of you unfamiliar with the BB, it’s one of the largest and most celebrated 10K’s in the world, with over 55,000 participants in 2009. The race takes place throughout downtown Boulder every Memorial Day, and it features live bands, dancing grannies or other entertainment on nearly every block. It finishes up at CU’s football stadium with a picnic for all, military jet flyovers and paragliders. It’s truly a blast.
And all that’s a good thing, unless you haven’t been running all winter long, which means that you have just six weeks from the last day of ski season to running a 10K in peak form. (And since this is Boulder, your peak form had better be good.)
At any rate, in my younger days, I was able to put together a few runs in April and May, and I’d be more or less ready for the Bolder Boulder. However, as I discovered last year – after an eight-year sabbatical – it’s not so easy anymore. Somehow, over the course of that time away, I had lost a minute off my pace, and that was on top of the time I’d lost over the previous several years.
This is when the acronym long used by computer programmers comes to mind: GIGO, or Garbage In, Garbage Out. When you’re over 40, a few training runs over the space of a few weeks will get you just that: very little return on very little effort. Meaning that even if your body was able to quickly overcome a certain slackness in your training schedule back in the day, those days are long over, and only a disciplined approach will help you find success post-40.